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  • questions about "relic-ing" a Fernandes strat

    greetings everyone, first time poster here.

    I just scored this Fernandes strat at a music store closeout. Not sure how old it is or what its made of for wood. if anyone could ballpark this for me id really appreciate it.

    Now, im thinking that, since i got it so cheap (and worst comes to worst i can get a new strat body pretty cheap) i was thinking id make a project out of stripping the guitar bodys finish, refinishing it with a natural wood look (im guessing its probably alder?) and going for a relic look, maybe some wood burning and stuff like that.

    so basically just a couple questions: what type of finish would you folks suggest? im thinking id like to go for a darker stained look, maybe a minwax polystain? and also if anyone could help me date the guitar that would be awesome. it has a serial number on the back of the headstock, but ive had no luck with the internet research ive done to date it.

    this is going to be my first refinishing project with a guitar and i am excited to get started, but i just want to make sure this instrument is a good candidate and there are no foreseeable road blocks along the way, id like to keep it simple for my first go around. thanks for reading!

  • #2
    Try using Tung oil. Its the easiest to use, especially for sokmeone who hasnt done

    any refinishing before. Its basically wipe on and let dry..

    Your bigger isse is getting the old finish off.

    If its got a poly finish (plastic) most paint removers wont touch it.

    Sanding or using a heat gun, or both is the only way to get it off.

    You have to take it all the way down to the wood too so the primer is

    completely removed which means taking a little wood off too. This can be

    an issue around the neck pocket and even cause the neck to overhang if the

    finish was thick in that area.

    Whats underneith the finish is the question. Guitars are usually painted to hide something.

    I wouldnt be surprised if you find a plywood body underneith the paint, or ay best some

    chunks of wood glued together that dont have matching grains. You may get lucky, but

    dont expect anything pretty to work with.

    My advice is just leave it alone and dont waste your time or money.

    I've done plenty in 40+ years and its a nasty job you dont wish on my worst enemy.

    You may wind up spending $10o just for the basic supplies to refinish the thing.

    Even decent relicing requires least a dozen attempts to learn the ropes.

    If you want to learn, get a botched job or unfinished body off EBay.

    That will save you half the cost of removing the old finish using a sander,

    sandpaper heat gun etc. Then you only have to worry about the new finish.

    Butcherd bodies can be found by the hundreds on ebay for $10 apiece which is

    even cheaper than stripping one you have on hand unless you already have the tools

    to do the job. Placing a nice finish over a scorched body is just as difficult as placing a finish over

    a pristine body.

    The trick is learning your chemicals and taking your time. Like I said Tung oil is the easiest

    and you can apply as many layers as you want. The way I do mine is to apply thicker coats with a sponge brush

    till I get a high gloss finish. You can mix oil based stain with the tung oil if you want a darker finish too.

    Spray laquer is the other way to go. Tung oil is extremely durable too.

    Laquer is the best for instruments because each new cost melts into the older coats

    so you have one thick cost when you're done. All other finishes go on in separate layers like an onion.

    Tung oil or even linseed oil and turpentine will give you a more antique vintage look.

    If you really want something cool use Violin Varnishwhich has been used for thousands of years.

    It will give you a great antique look and is supposed to give the best wood tone.

    Poly is the most difficult to apply. Botches require you to start over and its tough to

    apply and clean up. Is hard like plastic because it is plastic and fixing flaws cant be done

    seamlessly like laquer because the coats go on in layers and the flaws get trapped in the

    lower layers, not erased.

    #1 Main thing thing is "Do Not Mix And Match Chemicals"

    If you start with Laquer, stay with Laquer. Dont place acrylic ove oil, Lacquer over poly,

    oil over poly etc. Mixing the wrong chemical combinations is the #1 cause of failure.

    Laquer will stick to laquer, but it will just flake off a poly finish. Poly over laquer will

    peel off like sunburned skin in a big sheet.

    You can put laquer over shellac, and I have had success placing Tung oil over Laquer because

    they are resin based products. Other than that, dont expreiment and you wont have a problem.

    The main catagories of finishes are

    Laquer, Shellac which are alcohol based.

    Tung Linseed True oil - which are oil based

    Varnish - can be alcohol or oil based depending on the manufacturer

    Poly - is an epoxy/plastic based chemical

    Acrylic - is a water based plastic.

    Enamils - should not be used on guitars. There are two basic types, water based and oil based enamils.

    Oil based is designed for metal, not wood. I made a mistake of using oil based on a body once and

    two years later the chrap still hadent dried below the outside skin and was prone to wrinkling when set in a

    stand. Guitar cables left draped over the body will have a chemical reaction and melt into the finish. Its likely a chemical

    reaction to Vinyl or some other vapor the cable give off. In any case never use enamil.

    I suggest you visit the reranch site and read up on properly refinishing a body. Refinishing is not friendly to on the

    job training. You have to pre plan to do a good job which you have already begun by posting here so I give you Kutos on that.

    The skill postion of doing the job well is a combination of experience and talent. Some have a gift for air brushing for example,

    and some suck at it no matter how hard they try.

    Give it a shot and see how you make out, but read up on all aspects first.

    Start at the reranch site here. http://www.reranch.com/101a.htm

    Then also check out antique restoration. You'll likely learn more doing that

    the a years worth of botched attempts doing it blindly.

    Good luck.


    • #3
      So something like this i could choose my color and mix it with tung oil? And when you say mix, do you mean literally mix them together, or alternate layers when applying?

      I think i will prob just buy a body to experiment with at first. Ive researched removing the finish and was planning on the whole paint scraper/heat gun thing, but since i dont know whats underneath, i suppose ill save my troubles for now. Thanks so much for your detailed response!


      • #4
        Yes, you can mix oil stain with tung oil and darken it.

        I used Minwax walnut oil stain to darken tung oil on some dining room chairs

        I bought as kits. The wood was too light to match my antique dining room table

        so I mixed in some stain with the tung oil before applying it to the chairs and they

        came out an exact match. Its been a good 10 years with no issues since I did it with

        no issues.

        The stain does make the tung oil thinner so you have to apply it with thinner coats.

        Be sure to go lighter than you think you have to. If it doesnt wind up being dark enough

        you can always add another coat. The good thing is its semi transparent so you can still

        see the grain below if you dont go too dark. Once you get the darkeness you want, then

        you just apply the tung without stain to act as a transparent clear coat over the darker layers below.

        You basically do the same thing with laquer. You mix in pigment to the clear laquer

        then spray it on. Lacquer does require a sprayer though. It also requires working with

        dryers and thinners to get the mixture right. Temp and humidity have to be right bworking with

        Laquer so you dont get fogging from moisture trapped in the layers. You can do a pretty good job

        with rattle cans, but you have to apply it light and buff it out after so may coats. Like I said,

        I think Lacquer gives the best guitar finish. Its durable and repairable. If you get a scratch, you can

        sand it out and apply more for a seamless repair. You can also use laquer sticks and melt them into

        a ding and it fixes the spot perfectly.


        • #5

          Quote Originally Posted by WRGKMC
          View Post

          Butcherd bodies can be found by the hundreds on ebay for $10 apiece

          Where do you find these on eBay?
          Not to be taken seriously most of the time.


          • #6
            ^^ I didnt say hunderds at a the same time. If checked daily it adds up to a

            hundreds in a short period of time. I checked this morning and there were 20 bodies under $10

            that had no bids and no minimum bid. One third of those were botched refinish jobs or so ugly

            noone is likely to buy or outbid you on them.

            I have about 3 of these bodies on hand now waiting for me to refinish them.

            I have maybe 4 others I've already refinished in my collection.

            You can buy them cheap, you just have to check daily and know what and when to bid on something.

            Knowing what days to bid are key too. Right now, after the holidays and before the end of the month

            when people get paid is an ideal time to buy. People are selling off their old junk to pay bills because

            they just bought or received gifts over the holidays. Also sellers who couldnt unload things before

            christmas are beginning to lower prices back down to unload them now. Buying before christmas

            is the worst time because everyone jacks their prices up to near retail prices.

            Whenever I look any more I try to find something unique or vintage. I have plenty of the normal

            stuff on hand. I saw a vintage Silvertone hollowbody beginning at $10 that will be a neat project.

            It will likely go up in price because its a rare item.



            • #7

              I wasn't searching correctly.

              There are a bunch.
              Not to be taken seriously most of the time.


              • #8
                For anyone else with a fernandes, i found this record of old catalogs. The fernandes site seems to only have the past few years, but this has decades. I think mine is a 2007 retrorocket X. Alder body.